In my journalism and reporting classes, it has been brought to my attention the amount of interpersonal violence awareness that different WIU organizations are bringing to campus. One such organization, the WIU Women’s Center, hosted an event that really connected with students in a whole new way–The Clothesline Project (TCP).
The WIU Clothesline Project is coordinated through the WIRC-CAA Victim Services Program. This regional organization brings The Clothesline Project to different places around the local area. In the weeks leading up to this event, the WIU Women’s Center hosted different T-shirt designing sessions. During these sessions, victims and survivors of interpersonal violence were able to decorate t-shirts expressing their feelings and experiences. The t-shirts were then on display Friday on the first floor of the Multicultural Center until 3 p.m. During The Clothesline Project display, Victim Services representatives were on hand to answer questions and talk with attendees.
The Clothesline Project first started at WIU 17 years ago. Katie Mey, a graduate assistant in the Women’s Center, was in charge of The Clothesline Project this year. “I believe that providing an opportunity for all victims of interpersonal violence to participate in something like TCP is hopefully meaningful not only to them, but to those in their community,” said Mey. She added that TCP should also be seen by the public as a call to action to support victims and survivors and to prevent interpersonal violence in their communities.
Mey and her colleagues hope that when people stopped by the display, they considered the stories that were being told through the t-shirts. These stories were coming from different individuals of their community; it could be their classmates, their friends, neighbors, or anyone that they interact with on a daily basis. The Clothesline Project should be viewed as a reminder that domestic violence, assault, sexual abuse, and other types of interpersonal violence exist in all communities, said Mey.
“I hope that participants took away a sense of being heard, respected, and supported by our community,” said Mey. She also hoped that this event led victims to a sense of healing. The participants were not the only ones who were expected to take something away however. Mey hoped that spectators realized that even though we feel safe in our communities, interpersonal violence exists everywhere. Macomb and WIU are safe areas, but that does mean that this kind of activity isn’t happening.
The Clothesline Project helped raised interpersonal violence awareness by exposing the public to real-life stories and experiences of victims. Even though TCP is a positive expression of feelings, it is a soft reminder to be aware of the dangers in your community. Good work, WIU Women’s Center!